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Returning crutches to NHS

Forums General Banter Returning crutches to NHS

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    • I was given a pair of crutches a wee while ago when I sprained my both ankles. They weren’t brand new, but in more than decent nick. Needless to say, they were super handy since I didn’t leave home for a week and was getting a cabin fever.

      I was asked to return them as they cost a fair bit. It all makes sense – I am not going to use them anyway (hopefully!). I got to a different A&E and they refused to take them due to Health and Safety reasons?! This just sounds like a waste of money… It’s just a nonsense!

      Luckily, I saw a woman who broke/sprained her leg, so I just offered them to her, which she accepted. At least she won’t take another pair of crutches which she won’t be able to return.

    • Interesting. I still have crutches from 2005 (NHS-issued) when I broke an ankle. Nobody requested that I return them but I did try to do so, and whoever it was that I saw quite politely and convincingly explained that the paperwork involved would actually cost the NHS more than the value of the crutches. This made sense to me at the time and makes even more sense now (I work for a large corporation, private sector, and the bureaucracy can seem inefficient in terms of man hours – I am told that in the public sector it is far worse)

      I am surprised that you were asked to return yours due to their value. Were they fancy? Mine were the standard aluminum tubing ones, I imagine they cost the NHS no more than £20 wholesale.

      They are handy for getting free priority boarding on cheap flights (I have NEVER done this) 😉

    • @kelly Nah, they seemed pretty standard. I was asked to return them regardless as it made sense to me. I really don’t have a use for them. Well, apart from the fact that the scan last month revealed that I have broken my ankle before (fully healed up by now, but there’s a chip floating around) and I am still not sure how that happened.

      There’s few articles suggesting they should be accepting them regardless:

      > The Isle of Wight NHS Trust is spending thousands of pounds every year on replacement crutches. For every 50 pairs of crutches that are issued to patients only 10 pairs are returned.

      > The trust lends more than 5,000 pairs of crutches out each year and the vast majority of them are not returned.
      > Each pair of crutches costs around £13, meaning over the course of the year more than £80,000 is spent – money which could be used improving patient care.

    • I was given 2 crutches after badly tearing an ankle ligament, and had one of them taken off me by the hospital when I went back to have how I was doing checked up on, and later on the other one requested back as my ankle improved further.

      Possibly it’s when a hospital can’t ‘track’ the crutches it handles that it can cost them money in paperwork?
      I guess if somebody give in a crutch from another hospital, and they lent it to a patient and it broke and they hurt themselves, questions could be asked?

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      People say elf and safety when they are lazy and don’t want to take on a task.

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      My partner had her second hip replacement 4 weeks ago. Given walking sticks by discharge nurse. When asked about returning them she was told that they don’t want them back, they are single use items.

    • I got to a different A&E and they refused to take them due to Health and Safety reasons?!

      Did you not try taking them back to the place you got them from (and which you say asked for them back)?

      If you’re now miles away from the place you were treated for some reason then fair enough, giving them to someone else who needs them seems like a good solution. The initial cause of the problem that you’re complaining about seems to be you going to the wrong place though. The NHS doesn’t really operate as a single national organisation.

    • Returning to the same hospital should be okay but a different one won’t know their history.
      If it’s right that they cost £13 each and that adds up to £80k a year I don’t blame them not taking the chance.
      It would cost far more if a pair broke and granny ends up breaking a hip.
      The ambulance chasers would be salivating at the thought.

    • Did you not try taking them back to the place you got them from (and which you say asked for them back)?

      When I got injured, I took a cab to a Minor Injuries Unit, which was closed temporarily. The driver took me to the hospital with A&E instead. I drove today to a hospital nearby just to find ruins – it was demolished, apparently! So I drove to the closest other hospital, thinking that’s the one we agreed it should be fine to drop them off. I believe nurse mentioned that any hospital should have been fine regardless. Or so I thought.

      I probably should have taken them back where I got them from, thinking in retrospect.

    • Very surprised that they wouldn’t take them back off you. My hospital has a big bin next to reception in Fracture Clinic, and another in the physio department, so you can just drop them off. I think they get inspected and cleaned up before re-used.

      Wooden walking sticks are cut to size for each patient, and get shorter and shorter until they’re no longer useful.

    • Crutches cost around £10 to purchase. The charge to collect and decontaminate crutches to the required infecting control standards cost in the region of £20.

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      Crutches cost around £10 to purchase. The charge to collect and decontaminate crutches to the required infecting control standards cost in the region of £20.

      That’s ridiculous. I’m a microbiologist so know and a little about killing bugs and we could effectively decontaminate stuff like crutches for pennies. They are designed to be easily cleaned and would need little more than a good wipe down with something like distel, trigene, or Virkon. And if you were feeling really keen you. Could probably just chuck them in the autoclave. And anyway, we’re not talking about surgical instruments and the hands of the person handing the crutches to the patient are far more likely to be the contamination source than the crutches themselves.

    • @mel It might sound ridiculous, but I work in community equipment services, so I am just saying how it is.

    • At my local LA recycling centre there is a container for the depositing of what is labelled as medical aids. I’ve looked in on the passing and crutches, sticks and wheelchairs were within. No idea what actually happens to them but at least there is option for reuse somehow and not just dumped into landfill.

      I remember a few years ago, I was trying to return various medical aids after my partner died, and despite some of the stuff was unused I was told it was all single use. They did accept it when I took it back though.

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      Following my hip replacement recently I returned home with two crutches. They were useful at first, but as I got stronger I had little, then no, need for them. I took them back to the hospital when I went to my follow-up appointment. I left them in giant cage filled with dozens of the things, just outside the therapy department. It must make financial sense to the hospital to take them back and clean them up ready for the next victim

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      Think yourself lucky – when I crushed my foot in a motorbike accident (to the extent I couldn’t put any weight on it whatsoever for over a week afterwards), the kind folk at Huddersfield HRI A&E told me they hadn’t got any crutches, and simply shrugged. Very helpful at 1am, and 25 miles away from home.

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      I’ve had crutches from three separate hospitals (two different trusts) now and each time I’ve given them back when I finished with them. I think I even gave back my post-surgical aircast, though I vaguely remember them offering to let me keep that. The only thing I didn’t return was the brace I had after dislocating my elbow.






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